The Hampton Court Albums of Catherine the Great

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2016-07-08
  • Publisher: Fontanka
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In the early 2000s two albums of drawings were discovered in storage in the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Purchased by Catherine the Great in 1783, they had lain unnoticed for over 200 years. Hermitage curator Mikhail Dedinkin identified the artist as John Spyers, Capability Brown's draughtsman and surveyor for many of his most famous landscape designs. The drawings in the first album are exclusively of Hampton Court Palace and its parks and gardens, where Capability Brown was Chief Gardener to King George III for the last 20 years of his life. The second album contains a mixture of landscapes, architectural drawings and studies. This book reproduces all 149 drawings. It also includes another remarkable discovery: in the course of restoration for an exhibition at Hampton Court Palace in 2016 - the tercentenary of Capability Brown's birth - pencil drawings precisely mirroring the final watercolors were found beneath 14 of the pages. Catherine the Great was a passionate enthusiast for the English style in gardening and landscape design. Although she did not succeed in persuading Capability Brown himself to visit Russia, she would have drawn inspiration from these albums, particularly for her new English park at Peterhof, near St Petersburg. Now finally in the public domain, it is clear that the drawings of Hampton Court represent one of the most complete visual records of an historic landscape ever captured before the age of photography.

Contents: A Discovery in the Hermitage; The Hampton Court Albums of Catherine the Great; John Spyers, Capability Brown's Draughtsman and Surveyor, and his Views of Hampton Court; Album I: Drawings of the Royal Palace at Hampton Court; Album II: Landscapes, Studies and Anrchitectural Drawings; Index of Drawings.

Author Biography

Mikhail Dedinkin is deputy head of the Department of Western-European Art and curator of Drawings at the State Hermitage Museum, where he has worked for more than 30 years. In 2014 he curated the exhibition Her Imperial Majesty's Hermitage, dedicated to the 250th anniversary of Catherine the Great's museum. Dr David Jacques is a consultant, lecturer and writer on historic landscapes, parks and gardens. He was the first Inspector of Historic Parks and Gardens at English Heritage from 1987 to 1993, and has been advising on the gardens at Hampton Court since being leader of the landscape team that restored the Privy Garden in 1995. He is the author of several publications, including Georgian Gardens: Reign of Nature.

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